What is Reflexology?

Enjoy a treat for the feet with this reflexology guide, and learn what to expect and what you need to know before you book this treatment.

Reflexology Mystery Origns?
Reflexology is shrouded in a spa myth that it originated Asia as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine or (TCM.) Its modern-day form is an American invention. In 1917, William Fitzgerald, M.D., posited his “zone theory,” that the body could be divided into ten longitudinal zones and that pressure on one part of a zone could affect everything else in it. Later, during the 1930s, physical therapist Eunice Ingham applied that idea specifically to the feet.

Good to Know:
During a reflexology session, you’re clothed and seated or lying down while the therapist rubs, presses on, and squeezes points on your feet. The therapist may concentrate on specific areas to alleviate ailments (if you have sinus trouble, she’ll focus on your toes) or work on the whole feet with the aim of strengthening every system in the body.

Reflexology is the practice of stimulating points on the feet that are thought to correspond to specific organs.

Before you go:
Reflexology involves kneading the soft fleshy ball of the foot, pulling on the toes, tracing around the heel, and pushing deep into the arch. These are just a few of the many small, intense movements you’ll experience. While some spots may feel more sensitive than others, reflexologists will often say that pain indicates blocks in the energy pathways or weak organs and isn’t due to the pressure of the touch.

In addition to manipulating the pressure points on the foot, reflexologists sometimes work on hands or ears to trigger relaxation. Some people say they feel hot or cold sensations. There is still some debate regarding reflexology’s effectiveness, but even if nothing happens above your ankles, it’s still a deeply relaxing massage.

There’s the Rub
Just to be clear: a foot rub is not reflexology therapy. Reflexology practitioners need to know the “zone theory,” just where the body is mapped on the foot, or complete training in a reflexology program (a minimum of 200 training hours for certification is typical), which outlines the principles of acupressure and body’s energy pathways.